How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Scottsdale AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Scottsdale and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Scottsdale AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Scottsdale AZ.